It can seem a rather daunting task navigating the change to reusable products, but like anything, with a bit of preparation and research, and above all action, you can make it happen and you will never look back! Reusable products give you the feel good buzz of not creating more waste, they are handy, because you can always have them ready to go, they are comfortable, and most importantly, they do the job...they really work! Below are my top 7 tips to get you started:
- Preparation - First you are going to have to be prepared in advance. You are going to need to replace your standard disposable products with reusable products. If you currently use tampons, you might like to try a menstrual cup. If you are a pad wearer, you can try reusable pads or period underwear. Eco Period Australia have put together a handy zero waste period pack with a few of these items to try out if you are unsure what works best for you.
- Practice – If you have never used a menstrual cup before, it might be a good idea to practice inserting it before your period arrives, so that when your period is here, you feel confident using it. Make sure you sterilise your cup – you can use a microwaveable steriliser or simply boil it on a gentle heat for a couple of minutes. Once it is cooled, practice inserting it by using the punch down fold (see image below). Make sure it is fully opened and not still folded, this might mean you have to pull it down a little by the tail and twist it to get it to fully open, then pop back up.
- If you need to change underwear or pads throughout the day, pop them in a leakproof wet bag – Eco Period Australia give you a free wet bag with some purchases, it’s really handy for on the go, sleepovers or school camps or even to keep your menstrual cup in when you are expecting your period.
- Make Washing Easy – Period underwear and reusable pads are really simple to wash, you don’t have to wash them straight away, we do recommend rinsing them the same day and you can leave them in your laundry tub or a bucket until you are ready to wash them all. You can pop them in your washing machine in a cool wash in a mesh wash bag, or you can hand wash them, also in cool water. Just make sure you use a natural detergent, (we like Eco-store) because some harsh chemicals, bleaches and softeners can degrade the properties of the underwear and pads (and they are also less kind to your skin and body).
- How many pairs of period underwear do you need? – It really depends on your flow and how comfortable you are. All Eco Period Australia period underwear absorb heavy flows from at least 20 to 35 mls, but even though they may not be full, you may wish to change more regularly. A typical period lasts 5 days, of which 2-3 days are heavy (yours may be shorter or longer). Assume you will need 2-3 pads or pairs of underwear for every 24 hours on your heavy days and 2 pairs for each 24 hour period of your light days. Some girls only require the leakproof underwear on light days. Also if you are using a menstrual cup in tandem with period underwear, you won’t need as many underwear. Eco Period Australia make up a handy cycle pack of 6 pairs of underwear, which will see you through your cycle if you wash every second day. A mixed bundle gives you two sleep briefs and 4 regular briefs, which is a great way to start and you also save a load of cash buying in bulk. We recommend for an exclusive period underwear wearer, to get a Cycle pack of 6 Mixed pairs, plus about 4 leakproof undies for lighter days.
- How many pads and liners do you need? If you like wearing pads and want to switch to reusable modern cloth pads and panty liners, again, it depends on your personal needs and your flow, but say for a more typical 5 day cycle, with 2-3 heavy days, you might want 2-3 overnight pads, 5 regular pads and 2-5 panty liners for lighter days. Eco Period Australia have put together handy bundles, including a one week cloth pad pack, which should see you through your cycle, perhaps even without washing in between.
- Cleaning your Menstrual Cup – It’s recommended that you sterilise your menstrual cup between periods, you don’t have to sterilise it during your red days, just a simple rinse between emptying is fine. To sterilise, we recommend using a microwaveable steriliser, just because it is so simple to use and to properly sterilise your cup, it needs to be submerged in boiling water for a couple of minutes. You can pop your cup into the steriliser, half fill it with water, microwave for a minute on high, turn it over, microwave again for another minute and then to finish off, empty the water and fill the steriliser with white vinegar. Submerge the cup in the steriliser with vinegar for at least a minute, and you are done. Sterilised, clean and no smells and ready for your next period.